Friday, April 9, 2010


Just a brief note here: we are moving to our very, very shiny new site at Wordpress! This site will now be inactive, but all my posts will remain if you want to see them in their native lands.
is the new URL...see you there!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Totems 101: Restoration (OOC)

Now continuing my little guides for low-level shaman, we come to Restoration, the healing tree. If you enjoy instancing a lot and prefer to either not quest or struggle through them (in a vain, pitiful fashion reminiscent of, perhaps, a concussed kitten chasing a dragonfly), Restoration is likely for you. If you're shopping between different healing classes and specs, here's a rundown of what Resto is usually good at from a healer's perspective:

  • Purging Status Effects
    With Tremor Totem and Cleansing Totem, the talented spell Cleanse Spirit, and use of the ranged, threat-reducing interrupt Wind Shear, a Resto shaman is capable of nigh-effortlessly keeping his party clean of everything but Magic debuffs and can act to prevent spell damage from occurring. This is a /very/ large advantage for certain areas, such as Heroic Halls of Reflection, where the many crowd control/poison/curses and painful spells require much more attention or simply healing through on other healing classes.
  • Balanced Healing
    Back in the Burning Crusade, Chain Heal ruled the AOE healing charts. Now, we're not quite so masterful on AOE, with holy priests and resto druids able to beat shaman on the higher raid tiers, but shaman now posses a varied and useful set of healing effects; Riptide for a instant-cast heal with a HoT effect attached, Lesser Healing Wave for quick, mana-efficient heals, Chain Heal for AOE, and Healing Wave for big or (with cooldowns) emergency heals, and Earth Shield for passive, threatless healing.
  • Group Support
    With all the usual shaman buffs and the group-affecting Mana Tide totem, a restoration shaman brings many buffs to a raid or group, particularly for long, healing-intensive fights in which multiple healers may go OOM.
So if you decide this sounds like something you'd enjoy, read on. :)

The early levels (1-40s)

Early questing is exactly the sam
e as any other shaman-you hit things, they die, heal yourself, etc. Once you start getting stats on your gear, you should aim for spellpower, intellect, crit, and MP5...avoid spirit and hit, as they're useless for you, and physical stats like agility and strength are completely worthless.

Until level twenty, you have exactly one healing spell in your arsenal: Healing Wave. It's slow, but it heals a big chuck of health. Talenting for reduced cast time will be /very/ useful. Once you do hit twenty, you get your Water totem, and the much faster-casting Lesser Healing Wave, as well as Water Shield. This suite of abilities will /greatly/ improve your ability to heal, as your mana will regenerate much faster, and you have cheap, passive heals to supplement your more mana-efficient LHW spell. At 30, you get a handy boost to your heals with the Earthliving Weapon imbue, which should be active at all times. You will receive no major changes to your healing spells until level 40.

Middle Levels

At the aforementioned level 40, you gain Chain Heal, which is one of the more unique spells in your arsenal-it jumps to other targets near your initial target. Glyphing for CH is highly advised if you're regularly healing large groups, as it'll let you heal an additional target. It's tempting to spam CH, and in some circumstances that is the ideal solution, but
save it for when your group is A: Clustered and B: taking steady AOE damage. If the tank's the only one getting damaged to any serious extant, then LHW is still your best bet-Healing Stream totem is very handy for patching up group damage.

At level 50, you pick up Earth Shield, which should always be placed on the tank. The healing from Earth Shield gives no threat, and procs every few seconds in a serious fight. Keep it refreshed when it drops to one or two stacks, and it'll help a great deal. This is the last ability you learn until your level 60 talent, which gives you Riptide. Riptide is an instant-cast heal with a HoT component, and interacts with your other spells in beneficial ways. After casting Riptide, your next two Healing Wave/LHW spells are buffed: HW with a massive haste boost, and LHW with a 25% crit increase. Additionally, the healing from Chain Heal is increased dramatically on the Riptide target while the HoT is active. It's thus generally preferable to use Riptide frequently and on targets requiring a great deal of healing.

Discussing addons...I personally use Healbot to simply matters, but something like Grid or another unit-frame addon and mouseover macros will help a /lot/, and can help free your attention to focus on things like the void zones spawning under your feet or that painful spell the mob is about to cast. There are a lot of things to keep track of in groups and raids, and anything that frees your attention will be of great use.

Shaman healing is, in my experience, quite fun and rewarding. Best of luck in the randoms!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Totems 101: Enhancement (OOC)

Well, my lovely and talented Faeldray has written up something interesting, and based on that and the shaman I had the...dubious honor of grouping with on my alliance rogue, I think it's time I wrote a little something on my favorite class. This is meant primarily as an overview and introduction to the class for new players, or players who are new to shaman. So please, pencil and paper only, and there will be many tests on the subject as you level. :)

First, there are the talent trees: Elemental, Enhancement, and Restoration. These three trees encompass spell dps, melee dps, and healing, respectively. If you are just starting to put talent points together, think carefully about what you want to do in the game, and how you want to do it. This post will cover Enhancement; I'll go through the other specs in later posts.

Enhancement is my primary spec on Kazimierz, my personal favorite to play, and the best for those who like to solo and quest their way up the levels. This tree favors melee combat, and allows a number of powerful group buffs that aid those with similar talents: 20% melee haste, 10% increased attack power, and the highest strength/agility buff in the game. If you enjoy getting up close and personal with your opponents, this tree is ideal.

Given this focus, you want to maximize melee DPS. As a shaman, you gain 1 AP per point of STR and one AP per point of AGI. Since AGI adds crit chance as well, it is the clear winner. Low-level enhancement shaman should try to gear for agility, crit, attack power, and some hit if they find it. Strength isn't bad, per se, but agility gives you much more. Gear with intellect isn't particularly useful at this time, and spirit should never be considered for any flavor of shaman, as it gives nothing beyond its underwhelming passive, out-of-combat regeneration.

As far as weapons go...from 1-39, you'll want to grab whatever two-hander you can use and has the highest base DPS. Agility is nice, of course, but base weapon damage counts a lot more. You should imbue this with Flametongue or Rockbiter; whichever one you've trained a new rank in most recently is generally a good bet. Both improve damage on hit; flametongue also buffs your spell damage (but not healing). Both are inferior to Windfury, which you train at level 30-this should /always/ be on your weapon once you have it, as it gives a chance to effectively hit three times with buffed damage. Unless you PVP regularly, Frostbrand isn't going to do a lot of good, and brings very low DPS compared to the other options. In this level range, you will typically be using totems sparingly, but they are very handy for tough fights or mob-heavy areas where you won't move a lot. Use Earth Shock, auto-attack, and keep Water Shield up: it'll keep you in mana (and thus health) for no cost.

Now, at 40, you will gain the ability to dual-wield, if you talent for it. Scratch that, you will talent for dual-wield; it's a massive boost in both DPS and smoothness over the two-handers. Combined with the ability to wear mail, this means a very big jump in your ability to kill quickly and without taking a huge amount of damage. This ability to dual-wield means you have to think about what kind of one-handers you use, however, and the answer is based on your Windfury Weapon. Every time WF triggers, a hidden 3-second timer counts down, during which no more windfury procs can be generated. This, combined with the other useful talents Stormstrike and Lava Lash, means that the slowest possible weapons are advantageous. Additionally, you should imbue your offhand with Flametongue; the WF timer does not discriminate between weapons, and the extra attacks will be much weaker if they're from your offhand.

As you advance from there, your combat priority changes: start with Stormstrike, then use your Earth Shock to profit from the nature damage boost, using magma/searing totem and Fire Nova as your mana allows. Mental Dexterity means you can profit from Intellect on your gear, so don't discount it anymore, and at 50, you gain access to the wonders of Shamanistic Rage: 15 seconds of damage reduction and mana generation. Proper use of shamanistic rage and Improved Stormstrike will make it much easier to keep your mana up, allowing you to drop totems as a matter of course. The best are generally Strength of Earth, Magma, and Windfury; healing stream or cleansing are both solid choices depending on how toxic the region you're fighting in may be. As you obtain Lava Lash, add it after Earth Shock in your priority.

As I mentioned your priority, I should say a little more about it. You do not, as an enhancement shaman, have a rotation. You have a priority, and at any given moment of free global cooldown, you want to use the highest available skill on the list. Thus, for you 50ish shaman, it's Stormstrike/Earth Shock/Lava Lash, with Fire Nova on either side of Earth Shock depending on if it's a solo mob or a group. Learning to prioritize with each new skill should be a goal while you level, as you have rather a lot of them by the end-game. It's not too important as you level, of course, but if you want to maximize your damage output, it's something to practice.

As you approach 60, one of the most valuable talents becomes available: Maelstrom Weapon, which, when capped, will give you a 20% cast time reduction per stack on any lightning or healing spell. At the 5-stack maximum, this gives you instant-casts on some very useful spells. Soloing, you will find great use in Healing Wave to quickly patch yourself up mid-fight, while in groups, use of lightning bolt or chain lightning will up your damage dealt considerably. For optimum DPS, using a 5-stack of Maelstrom to cast Lightning Bolt is the highest priority of all your damage-dealing skills.

Your capstone talent in the Enhancement tree is Feral Spirit, and it summons a pair of wolves that make you into a tiny god for 40 seconds. They attack, they taunt, they give you faster movespeed, they break snares, and they heal you for the damage they deal-it's an amazing talent, and combined with shamanistic rage and maelstrom procs, you will be able to solo a great deal of the group quests in Outlands.

Grouping as an enhancement shaman is slightly different from soloing; the mobs aren't hitting you anymore (hopefully), and you don't have to worry about healing. First, the basics of DPS apply as always: watch your threat, target what the tank is targeting, and don't pull before the tank does. After these, you have a few more considerations beyond soloing.

First, you want to attack from behind whenever possible. While you have no Backstab-style skills, rear attacks are not subject to the enemy's full block/parry/dodge chance, meaning more damage and more chances for useful procs. Positioning like this also helps give the tank a chance to build threat, which is useful due to the sometimes-bursty nature of your DPS.

Second, you need to watch your totems, both to ensure they're giving the proper buffs and to make sure they aren't left in the path of a patrol. Familiarize yourself with your totems and what buffs they grant; death knights can duplicate your Strength of Earth effect, and allow you to drop Stoneskin instead; they can also duplicate your Windfury totem's melee haste enhancement and allow you to drop Wrath of Air for the healers. Knowing the mobs in the instance (or paying attention, if you've never been) will let you know when it's a good time to swap to Cleansing totem, or the ever-useful Tremor to strip fears and mind control. Proper use of these two totems will almost guarantee the healer's love in certain encounters. :)

Third (for higher-level shaman): use your cooldowns wisely. Shamanistic Rage lasts for 15 seconds, so if you're running low on mana, try to conserve until a relatively big or tough pull. Use your spirit wolves on every boss, and if there's a long time between them, don't be afraid to pull them out for trash. And Reincarnate wisely! It can be the difference between a bevy of corpse-runs or resurrection, or it can be the difference between a wipe and victory. You're low on health and mana when you come back, so take a moment to look around before you hit the button-AOE or void zones in your vicinity will be immediately fatal when you return.

The enhancement tree makes for a very entertaining and self-reliant shaman, combining good DPS with useful tools, potential off-heals, and flashy, powerful cooldowns. Look carefully at everything you can do, and you'll be amazed at the situations that you'll be able to get through.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Worst. Tank. Ever.

I realize the title sounds like hyperbole, and I suppose it is, but...I'm pretty sure this one is up there on the global scale of tanks-that-should-not-be. So here's the setup: I queue as healer/vain hope *coughs* I mean healer/DPS on Kazi to grab my frost emblems today. Get into HHOS, and check out the group. Ended up with a pally tank with 26k HP-not bad, probably new, but even new pally tanks aren't bad to heal, right?

Well, right about as I finish casting Earth Shield the first problem happens. A mage gets a little close to the wandering 3-dwarf patrol that lurks near the beginning and body-pulls them. No problem, right? Avenger's Shield, Consecrate, Hammer of the Righteous, any of them would pull all three to the tank with almost no effort. I'm not concerned.

Until the tank runs around, doing approximately nothing. And I do mean nothing, the mage goes down before I see the pally draw her weapons to auto-attack. Once the rest of the DPS notice, the mobs start dying, but she never gets threat on anything. I check it out, she *does* at least have Righteous Fury up, so I figure she wasn't ready. wrong I was. The first group she pulls, she loses *instantly*. Same with the second, and the third, and then the three groups combined after that. /Never/ did I see this tank ever get more than orange-level threat on something for more than a second. I finally mouse over recount, and, well...I'll show it to you (names withheld to protect the innocent. And the guilty).

Yes, the tank is the one in pink from Nazgrel. Yes, that *is* Hand of Reckoning as her top DPS ability. No, Consecrate, Hammer of the Righteous, any Judgment, or any other tanking ability are not present. And yes, that is Seal of Command being used, helping her generate the amazing 360 DPS sufficient to tank, I don't know, maybe level 60 instances? Oh yeah, remember, this was Heroic Halls of Stone, and she somehow had enough gear for 26k HP-more than you can get with a fresh 80.

I'm normally willing to put up with new players or less-than-skilled players, but this? Combined with her silence and the fact I could barely keep everyone alive on the easiest trash pulls...I bailed. I left group, and so help me I don't feel bad at /all/.

Except for the poor DPS who have to requeue, they're definitely worse off.

So...give me your stories of the worst tanks you've ever played with, and if you can top that...I pity you. ;)

Friday, February 26, 2010

*brushes off dust*

So I know I've been neglecting my blog for a while, with little explanation as to why. Well, as you may have read on Faeldray's excellent site, the two of us have been spending as close to every waking moment together as possible for the past three and a half months now. She, wonderful woman she is, captured my heart and mind, and my motivation to write kind of faded as I valued time with her much more than writing...or sleep, or food, although those last two got me in a little bit of trouble...However, gentle prodding indicates I should probably start writing again, so here we are. Hopefully, I won't have another long absence like that.

No promises. <.<
Anyway, my incredibly sweet Faeldray has sent me a marvelous gift: a custom portrait of Kazi, kitted out in his Argent Dawn RP gear, Gorehowl in his hand. It's a beautiful piece, and I'm paranoid to expose it to damage, so it's going to remain mostly boxed until I can get a proper frame for it. :)
...yes, I am weighting down the corners with stacks of blank CDs. They may or may not also be the ones I use as a mirror when I want to shave at my desk.

...don't look at me like that. >.>

In any case, as you can see, it's a wonderful piece of art from a wonderful lady, and I wanted to share it with everyone. I understand this was made by our guildie Snugglekins, who I have not yet had the chance to compliment in person. You do excellent work. :)

I'll try to get back to writing now...hope to share more with you soon!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A gift

This is a belated birthday gift for Faeldray at Petaholics Anonymous, who it has been my very great privilege to know and call friend. Qouth Wowwiki:

"A lok'vadnod is a prestigious song composed for a specific individual. It is commonly seen as the greatest honor the orcs can grant to an individual."

While usually the subject of a lok'vadnod is dead, Niqora's still very much alive. Happy Birthday!

Lok’vadnod for Niqora Wildstride

Harken, spirits, and heed my calling

That I may speak with sageful truth

Of the tranquil towering hunter

Of the mighty Wildstride

Born to warring plains and peoples

‘Twixt hateful hooves and twisting thorns

Dwelled her kind in cruel-edged battle

Dwelled the staid Shu’halo

In bitter strife did Wildstride strengthen

Sharp of wit and bright of soul

With her aim she warded elders

With the land she made her bond

Battered from the battles many

Bleeding stood the Shu’halo

Defiant through their doomed resistance

Defiant through their people’s night

Roamed Wildstride the barren badlands

Seeking shelter for her tribe

Ever stalking safer havens

Ever charting unknown lands

And as the Horde made hasty landfall

Wildstride wandered wide and long

To the woodland deep and looming

To the depths of Feralas

There, beneath the boughs of emerald

Found Wildstride a wolf of worth

Her hide of sable hue and luster

Her eyes of brilliant topaz gleam

Patient as the peaks above her

Stalked the woods did Wildstride

With skillful eyes she tracked the wolfling

With silent stillness she bode her time

And as the wolf loped lightly near her

Near the trap the tauren set

Readied her the rhyme of ancients

Readied her to sinter souls

Whispering her heart-wish swiftly

Before the snared and snarling wolf

Niqora formed her fastest friendship

Niqora to the beast was bound

Through slogging moor and icy mountain

Wandered Wildstride again

Always seeking, ever finding

Always Blacky by her side

Across the Plagueland’s fallow fields

And through the burning Blackrock mount

There was no shoreline shunned to travel

There was no stranger she’d not aid

With canny aim and cunning prowess

They ranged to regions strange and far

None may know their deeds for number

None could call their quests in vain

And as the Horde in heated battle

Sounded summons to the fray

Ready with her wolf she answered

Ready Wildstride marched to war

Amidst the spilling soldier’s lifeblood

Skirmished swiftly Wildstride

Gentle as she mapped and scouted

Gentle as she slew her foes

Never born to blood or thunder

Still Niqora knew their ways

Without fear she served her Chieftain

Without rage she earned her due

On her war-wolf swiftly riding

With her heart-bound at her side

Feared she made her name amongst them

Feared is Wildstride by our foes

And when honor’s hold was loosened

To savage southern dusts she strode

Seeking once more sights of wonder

Seeking secrets long unheard

In the bleached and bone-strewn desert

Stirred a strange forgotten foe

Driven by the voice of madness

Driven by the Old God’s gaze

Countless came the might of mortals

To face the fearsome threat again

Many stood and fought with fury

Many died to breach the gates

Yet Wildstride would not be among them

And though the thought was naught but desperate

Went she with the band of heroes

Went she to the Old God’s lair

None know aught of all they found there

Or of the wrathful ruin wrought

By the forty fearless mortals

By those who dared defy a god

Thought the toll was cruel and costly

Stood she with those who survived

Bow your heads and give her honor

Bow to Niqora, Old God’s Bane

Not content with quiet respite

Again she dared walk distant lands

Wandered with her wolf and weapons

Wandered to a broken world

Onward through the Outland wastelands

Wildstride wandered, Blacky near

‘Cross the crumbling crust of Hellfire

‘Cross the lakes of Zangarmarsh

Through Terokkar’s tainted woodlands

Across the nascent Netherstorm

Niqora ranged with green eyes watching

Niqora to the Mag’har came

On the gale-swept ground she battled

In service to our long-sought kin

Ogre’s blood she spilled in rivers

Ogre’s fear Nagrand now knows

With honor over those in waiting

Wildstride went to serve again

To the place we formed our folly

To the blackened Shadowmoon

Through the damned of Draenor’s darkness

Niqora watched and warred and won

Stood she at the black-built temple

Stood she at the Warden’s side

Amongst the needles born of nether

Those of shackled scales she found

Abandoned by black-hearted breeders

Abandoned once, but now no more

Disdaining doomed assault and slaughter

With beguiling guise she crept

Among the slavers, sly and slinking

Among their victims, breaking bonds

And with her cunning, canny luring

A sentry’s knell Niqora knew

Free was sable-scaled Saraku

Free again to aid his kind

Made them masquerade together

Foiling fel-orcs from within

Standing steady near the slavers

Standing, soon to pounce and strike

At last, the long deception dwindled

Before Betrayer’s blinded eyes
Away they fled on flows of nether

Away, in friendship forged of flame

And through her deeds so wide and wondrous

Her chieftain’s heart had with hers held

Together with her mighty Mysthowl

Together in bliss they would dwell

Yet peace was sparse and soon abated

As the Lich-King’s languor fled

Again with gun and gentle grimness

Again went Wildstride to the fray

To Northrend went Niqora freely

Not for only honor’s sake

Fought she for the fates of many

Fought the fallen, for their souls

At Angrathar she marched with honor

With the vanguard’s vengeful charge

Watched her Saurfang’s final challenge

Watched her Putress betray us all

And when the Warchief, ever watchful

With Sylvanus purged the halls

Niqora with the Kor’kron sallied

Niqora close beside them fought

Always seeking strange new visions

Through northern wilds Niqora strode

Finding friends to aid in battle

Finding sights of beauty deep

And when her clan with calm-set faces

Marched to slay the Lich-King’s pawn

With them Wildstride was stalking

With her, they felled dark Kel’thuzad

Bathed in honor bright and shining

She was granted duty great

Ambassador, of all our peoples

Ambassador to the Crusade’s call

Rose Wildstride through all aspiring

Skilled with lance and shield and bow

Until the Crusade called her sister

Until a Champion she was named

Now new terror haunts the northlands

Sibling spawn of dread C’thun

Dauntless, Wildstride advances

Dauntless delves to Ulduar

Hunts she now the ancient evil

Leading those who call her friend

Seeking through the Titan’s prison

Seeking dreadful Yogg-Saron

All who call her captain honor

Brave and valiant Wildstride

Always with her black-furred packmate

Always patient, always strong

Harken, spirits, and heed my calling

That I may swear with solemn vows

Of the truth of all I’ve spoken

Of the tale of Wildstride

Friday, November 13, 2009

A failure of spark (OOC)

So you may have noticed I'm several days behind here. <.<

I still plan to make the attempt, but I'm going to try marshaling inspiration instead of the daily grind. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, even if I don't make the Nanowrimo completely, I still intend to post a great deal of Kazimierz's adventures and the like.